MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission said it will suggest mediation by a three-person panel in determining what constitutes a reasonable rate for the West Virginia Supreme Court to pay for space in the new Monongalia County Justice Center.

Per state code, the supreme court compensates counties “a reasonable amount” for providing space for family courts.

The supreme court paid Monongalia County $12 a square-foot for space at its previous location, in the magistrate building. Court representatives have said many times that $12 is the highest rate paid to any county.

Prior to the move to the new justice center, the county requested that rate jump to $18. The court balked, and requested an appraisal. The county obliged, and the appraisal came back with a range of $20 to $25 per square foot.

The county requested $20.

Once again, the court rejected the offer and requested another appraisal — this one with stated comparables. That appraisal came back indicating it would cost $24.90 a square foot to rent similar space in downtown Morgantown, so that’s what the county asked for.

Steve Canterbury, administrative director for the West Virginia Supreme Court, responded with a letter to Commission President Tom Bloom dated Dec. 21.

Canterbury wrote, “I am in receipt of your most recent rent demand, but I am rejecting your rate.”

Bloom said the notion that the county made any demands is “incorrect, inappropriate and asinine.”

The family court uses 5,780 square feet in the justice center.